Women Have Stronger Digital Marketing Skills But Are Underrepresented

Author Zara Burke

Our recent Digital Skills Gap Report highlighted Ireland’s shocking skills shortage, most notably in the retail sector and amongst small businesses. However one of the most alarming statistics found that although women were 11% more digitally proficient than men, they account for only 30% of the digital marketing workforce. Even more worrying? Only 6.5% of executive directors in Ireland’s leading companies are women – that’s well below the EU average of 10.2%. What’s more, 71.7% of the entire digital marketing workforce are male.

The results from our Digital Skills Gap Report were derived from an exam containing 54 questions across the core digital disciplines of search, social media, email, display, mobile and digital strategy & planning. We tested the digital skills of 622 marketers (380 in Ireland) and found that while women achieved 39%, their male counterparts scored a lower 36%.

Why, if we have the skills and the ability, do we still lack the confidence to pursue more senior digital roles? And why do we think we can’t make it in the digital world to begin with? We discuss the positive effects having more women in digital could have on the economy and offer advice from some of the top digital leaders in the world.

More Women in Digital Can Help the Digital Economy

With a 150,000 digital jobs predicted by 2020 and a severe shortage of digital skills in Ireland, the under-representation of women in the digital workplace has huge implications for the digital economy. Perhaps, if there was a higher representation of digital-savvy marketers in senior decision-making roles, we would see more women adopting digital marketing skills in both Ireland and Europe. What’ more, it’s predicted that GDP could be boosted as much as €9 billion.

Inspirational Female Leaders

If these statistics don’t get you fired up and ready to take on new digital challenges maybe some advice from some of the world’s most inspirational leaders will. Have confidence, don’t apologize and never give up. Because women are just as good as men (and if our test is anything to go by we could even be better).

5 Tips from Female Digital Leaders (That Men Can Use Too)

1. Find an Inspirational Mentor

Leanne Goddins, Group Account Director at NATIVE VML advises women to find a mentor to help them gain confidence, make great career choices and actively identify and pursue opportunities. She says, “It’s vital to treat your work as a career, and not just as a job you come to every day.”

2. Don’t Give Up

Arianna Huffington, Chair, President and Editor-in-Chief for the Huffington Post advises women to never give up. She encourages us to try new things and embrace failures. When speaking of perseverance she says, “That’s probably the most important message that we can give to younger women. I constantly talk to my daughters about my failures. Because in the end, if you look at what makes people succeed, especially women, it’s about not giving up.”

3. Use Your Diversity

Vanessa Gibb, Native VML Head of HR says that women need to use their unique power, insight and way of thinking to their advantage. She says, “The strength women need to build on is their diversity – different ways of thinking and bringing new insights to the table. So use that.” Her mission is to encourage women in their digital career pursuits, hoping that in five years time we’ll see a more representative and diverse culture in the digital workplace. She concludes that, “Clients are asking for a change.” Let’s be that change.

4. Be Unashamedly Confident

Kathy Rae Huffman, CEO of Huffman thinks that women need to demonstrate confidence and a sense of self worth. She says, “Have confidence in yourself – and when you have your moments of doubt, as everyone does, keep it behind closed doors. If you want something – be it a speaking slot or a specific client or a raise at your agency – go after it. Don’t wait for life to hand you things because you’ll be standing around with empty hands. And never, ever let someone else’s opinion of you or treatment of you determine your own self worth or where you can go.”

5. Never Stop Learning

Mary Mattar, Internet Marketing Manager of Webpage FX highlights the importance of continuous learning to keep your knowledge up to date. She says, “The best thing you can do is continue to read books and articles, stay on top of this ever-evolving industry (because it changes A LOT!) and hone your technical skills. There are tons of great resources you can use to your advantage.”

Let’s change the industry’s perception, let’s change our perception. Because women are strong and powerful and capable digital marketers. It would be nice to see more of them in leadership roles.

One final thought from Tina Brown, award-winning journalist, editor, author and CEO, “I did a conference recently where we had a whole bunch of people from business and media, and I was absolutely aghast at how difficult it was to find women at the very top. I think it totally sucks.” Let’s change that.

Download the free Digital Skills Gap Report here for more in-depth insights, statistics and analysis on Ireland’s alarming skills shortage. We discuss the detrimental impact the skills shortage can have on the digital economy and suggest some viable solutions.

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Zara Burke